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Hello,  I have been given a Gibson guitar.  Any information on it would be helpful. Is it all original or has it been changed?  I have been told it is a L-7 from the 30's to 40's that my uncle bought in Japan.  Thank you.

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That is a very nice L-7... a great thing to have inherited.  It does appear to date to the mid-to-late 1930's.

Is there a serial number on the oval white label?  If not, see if you can find a "Factory Order Number" (FON) stamped inside the body (shine a light through the f-holes).

It appears to be in wonderful condition, but your photos are a bit small and it's hard to see details clearly.  If you can post larger images, or perhaps post links to larger images on a photo-sharing site, that would help a lot.

I'm a bit surprised at how shiny the body is, other than some surface film (dust, and/or mildew?).  Makes me wonder slightly whether the guitar could have been refinished at some point in time to have an underlying sheen like that.  If it was refinished, that would hurt its value significantly, but it's still a fine guitar.  The tailpiece looks original, apart from a possible modification (am I seeing a plastic insert in the center portion?).

I'll wait for you to reply before I conjecture any further, but I will say that the DeArmond floating pickup is a great thing to have, and is pretty valuable all by itself if it's functional.

Thanks for sharing this old gem here!

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        Thanks Jim!  The red stamped serial number is hard to see except for the last two numbers. Some one has handwritten the serial numbers in. It looks to me like 96189. The 189 is definite the 96 could be 9E.  I did also find another number on the inside of the back. It is handwritten A236.  I was also thinking it was refinished at some point. Most of the L-7  guitars I have seen from this time period have a sunburst top. Was a dark stained top available then?  What would you recommend to clean it?

You are correct about the tailpiece it is a piece of black plastic mounted in the center. I have not been able to find another example, perhaps it could be home made?

I have not been able to try the DeArmond yet. The guitar did not come with the correct cable. Do you know where I could source an adapter or a cable with the correct screw on jack?

I will take some better pictures. The back has two cracks. One has been fixed the other will need to be fixed before winter.

 

 

 

 

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Based on the design of your tailpiece, I was thinking 1934-37, but a serial number of 96189 would indicate 1939.  The tailpiece could have been changed, or possibly a leftover part.  Anyway, we're in the ballpark, but it's tricky if you're unsure about certain digits.  With regard to the A236, I'm not sure.  I would have thought an FON would be stamped rather than handwritten, and perhaps have four digits following the "A", rather than three.  Gibson did use some FON's with an A prefix in 1935, so that's something to consider.  FYI, I use the following site as a guide to dating Gibsons:  http://www.guitarhq.com/gibson.html#serial  It requires careful reading, and one also has to accept the fact that Gibson has a history of a certain amount of ambiguity and confusion with regard to their numbering systems.

I've seen quite a few vintage Gibson archtops with black finishes, but most of them were Gibson "special" models dating to the 1940's.  Anyway, it's going to be hard for me to say, even with better photos.  A cord for your pickup shouldn't be a problem to locate via a web search.  It might involve a few phone calls once you've found a source, but something like that should absolutely be available.  I would be hesitant to try to clean that guitar until you know what that is on the surface.  It reminds me of the look of mildew, which I have seen on a vintage piano with an ebony lacquer finish.  Anyway, I suppose a good guitar polish and a good quality cloth might produce good results, but I would use a light touch.

In general, I think that your best bet is to contact a reputable vintage dealer or repairperson.  This guitar deserves a well-qualified expert to inspect it in person, and discuss any issues it may have.  I don't know if there are any such shops near where you live, but I can recommend a couple of experts who you could contact by phone or e-mail, just for a start.   One would be George Gruhn at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville.  They do appraisals via the mail if you supply them with photos, and they have a fine repair shop.  They have been among the best in the business for decades.  https://guitars.com/  (home page);     https://guitars.com/appraisals  (info about appraisals and repairs)

Another potential source of information and assistance that I can recommend is Joe Vinikow at Archtop.com in Seattle.  Archtops are their specialty, and they also are very helpful with accessories for floating pickups like your DeArmond.  Here are links to the website:  https://www.archtop.com/  (home page);   https://www.archtop.com/ac_order.html#anchor46414635 (page with contact info)

If you're able to supply an experienced dealer like George or Joe with good photos of your guitar, I think that's your best bet for now, unless you have a person with similar experience and knowledge in your area that you could take it to (but even if you do, that might not be possible due to the pandemic).

Anyway, if you can share some good photos here, I might be able to offer better opinions about some of the details.  Hope this was helpful.

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I have contacted Joe at Archtop.com and sent pictures for appraisal.  I also saw on his web site that he has the correct screw on jack for the DeArmond.  Thank you Jim for the great info! I will let you know what I find out.  Jud

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